YF was the designation for a series of hundreds of barges built from World War One through World War Two. YF stands for yard freighter or lighter. The official designation appears as covered lighter non-self propelled. The covered barge could be used for anything from a floating workshop with repair equipment to patch up war damaged ships waiting for a dry dock or repair work for ships not in need of the dry dock. They could equally be used to move supplies, bulk cargo or ammunition to the depleted warships in the port. In other words, they were a lowly jack of all trades, ever present at any naval base but universally ignored.

Lion Roar has produced three sets of these homely but essential barges in 1:700 scale. The barge bunnies will love these, however these little gems are just perfect for yard or port dioramas hitched up to a more glamorous warship. The photographs shown here are for World War II USN Barges 1, Set R7004. Two barges are included YF-390 and YF-959. The YF-390 was a 1941 design, while the YF-959 appears as a late war barge design. The two barge designs vary in detail from each other. Lion Roar provides resin hull for each with a significant difference between the two. The YF-390 hull is longer but has fewer deck fittings than the hull of the YF-959. The fittings alignment is also difference. The resin hulls only need minimal clean up at the waterline because they are excellently cast.

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However, most of the barge consists of relief-etched stainless steel photo-etch. When I say relief-etched, I mean heavily, extravagantly, gloriously relief-etched. All you have to do to see what I mean is look at the photographs. The larger YF-390 is a two storey affair, which appears to have a pilot house atop the main barn like superstructure with railed walk ways running centerline on the roof crown of the main structure. Plastic rod is provided for quite a number of exhaust tubes, which certainly seems to indicate that the primary function of the YF-390 was as a floating machine shop.

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In contrast the shorter YF-959 just has the main structure without the second level house and no exhaust pipes. It does have sliding roof openings, which the YF-390 lacks. This seems to indicate that the primary purpose of the YF-959 was for resupply with access to the cargo pallets through the sliding roof doors.

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The diorama options boggle the mind with the addition of one or both of these little gems. You can have the YF-390 lashed to a battle damaged cruiser, while the cruiser’s crane can be lifting cargo pallets through the open roof doors of the YF-959. Or how about tying one barge to the port and the other to the starboard side of a kamikaze damaged destroyer, fresh from the grinder of Okinawa ? The variations are only limited by your imagination.

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